Web Visits = 9316 || Visit us on :


Assesment of Photos

There are currently 2 assessment systems in use in clubs in South Africa, namely the Sliding Scale System and the Star Points System.

The Sliding Scale System

PSSA proposes a system where the assessment of a photo is divorced from the award assigned for advancement. The award assignment becomes a pure calculation based on the current advancement level of the photographer. This system allows the judge / judges to assess all photos on an equal basis. It also has the advantage that the photographer has a better understanding of the real quality of the presented photo compared to all other photos, no matter the advancement level of the photographer. (As an example, a score of 10 means the same for a photograph of a 1-star photographer and a 5-star photographer – although the 10 points will not result in the same award for the 1-star and 5-star photographers)

The Assessment Process
Club Assessment is a three stage process:
1. The judge assesses the photo and assigns a mark to the photo.
2. The administrator or computer system calculates the award based on the photographer’s current advancement level. The mark, award and advancement level of the photographer is then announced.
3. The judge comments on the photo and ensures that the comments are directed towards the current advancement level and aligned with the mark assigned to the photo. (If the photo does not receive the highest score, it means that something could be done to approve similar photos in the future, and the judge must therefore add this to the comments).

Guidelines for Assessment
Most clubs assign points on a 5 point scale per judge. When assessing a photo, start by assigning full marks to the photo, but if the photo has some technical or compositional faults or lacks impact, deduct points appropriately.
1. If the photo is incorrectly exposed a point is deducted and the comments must point this out.
2. If the photo is not sharp (inappropriate motion-blur, or focus point wrongly selected) a point is deducted and the comments must point this out.
3. If the digital processing of the photo is incorrect, (overdone contrast, colour cast, over sharpening, dust spots visible, haphazard selective processing, etc.) a point is deducted and this must be pointed out as part of the comments.
4. If the photo lacks good composition elements (compositional elements such as the use of balance, space, colour, lines, and specific light to convey the mood), a point is deducted and comments must provide some guidelines to improve the composition.
5. If the photo lacks impact a point may be deducted, but remember that impact is very subjective and is influenced by your background knowledge of the subject, your current state of mind and even which photo has preceded this one!

Traditionally, club photo assessment is done by a group of three judges, and the total points of the three judges are added up to form a final score out of 15.

Some clubs started using a scoring system where each judge scores out of 15 and the average score is then used as the final score. The reasoning behind this is that each judge has a finer scale of points while assessing the photo. As an example: on a 5 scale system the judge will deduct a point for the exposure, while in the 15 point scale the judge could decide to deduct one point for a slight exposure problem, while for a grossly over or under exposed photograph the judge could use more than one point.

With the sliding scale the score is translated to the appropriate award based on the advancement level of the photographer. It was found that some of the clubs using the sliding scale are very lenient with regards awarding GOLD awards.

The Star Point System

With the star points system, the judge needs to understand the levels as implemented by the specific club, as well as the rules associated with each award for each level in the specific club. Typically before each photograph is judged the photographer’s level is announced and the judge then decides on the award based on the criteria given to the judge. Most clubs using this system will prepare a briefing document that needs to be studied by the judge before judging may commence.

The Assessment Process
Club assessment is a three stage process:

1. The judge is made aware of the star level of the photographers
2. The judge is given the criteria for the particular star level being assessed and the award is based on the photographer’s current advancement level, as well as taking into consideration the criteria set by the club for that star level.
3. The judge comments on the photograph and ensures the comments are directed towards the current advancement level and aligned with the mark assigned to the photograph. (If the photograph does not receive full marks, it means that something could be done to improve similar photographs in future and the judge should therefore add this to the comments.)

Guidelines for Assessment
The following generic guidelines are used in the star point system. The guideline is for awarding a Gold award, and based on the lack / good implementation of the guideline, a lower or higher award may be given

Level Art Craft
1 Star Element of composition Correct exposure
Correct exposure Correct post processing
Image clean and well presented
2 Star Element of composition Correct exposure
Correct exposure Correct post processing
Some knowledge of when and where to crop Image clean and well presented
3 Star Element of composition Correct exposure
Correct exposure Correct post processing
Some knowledge of when and where to crop Image clean and well presented
Should begin to show understanding of line, shape and form
4 Star Element of composition Correct exposure
Correct exposure Correct post processing
Some knowledge of when and where to crop Image clean and well presented
Should have an understanding of line, shape and form
5 and higher The language of visual elements and design principles to convey information emotions, thoughts, ideas, concepts or feelings Relies on the understanding and mastering of the craft in order to successfully communicate

Award Assignment
Based on the criteria given by the club for each star level, the judge needs to assign the appropriate award. The following table shows the possible awards. When more than one judge does the assessment, an administrator will add up the scores and announce the award. In the latter case, a point system is used, which is then converted into the appropriate award.

No Award 03-04
Bronze Award 05-07
Silver Award 08-10
Gold Award 11-13
Certificate of Merit 14-15